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Hong Kong Districts

Hong Kong is divided into a number of distinctly different districts.

Hong Kong Island
Hong Kong Island was the site of the original British settlement, ceded from China in 1842.  It’s across Victoria Harbour from Kowloon and the mainland NewTerritories.  It’s the second largest island of Hong Kong behind Lantau Island.  Total area is 80.4 square km, or about 32 square miles.  It makes up about 7% ofHong Kong’s land area but has 19% of the population.

The northern area on the island is the historical, political and economic center of the territory.  In 2000, the island had 1,367,900 people, most of them crowded into the few dense districts in the north.  Victoria Harbour lies to the north of the island and is responsible for much of Hong Kong’s development, because its water is favorable for ships.

The southern portion of the island is fairly undeveloped, and has many famous Hong Kong sights and beaches along with hiking trails.

Kowloon is the peninsula jutting down from mainland China towards Hong Kong Island.  Hong Kong Island lies to its south across Victoria Harbour, and the mainland portion of the New Territories lies to Kowloon’s north.  In modern day Hong Kong, Kowloon refers to both the Kowloon Peninsula and New Kowloon.

Kowloon was originally ceded from China to the UK in 1860, and then New Kowloon was ceded as part of the New Territories in 1898.  Now, the term New Kowloon is rarely used, and New Kowloon is generally considered part of Kowloon, not the New Territories with which it was ceded.  For tax purposes, however, it is still subjected to the land lease rates that the rest of the New Territories are.

In modern day conversations, however, New Kowloon is often not regarded as part of the New Territories, but as an integral part of the Kowloon urban area on both sides of Boundary Street. For rates tax purposes, New Kowloon is not considered part of Kowloon. Properties in New Kowloon are subjected to pay the land leases as those in the New Territories.

Because of the airport built in the district, the downtown has been subjected to limits on the height of its buildings, but that hasn’t prevent the urban area from becoming highly populated. The area has one of the highest population densities of anywhere in the world, about 112,000 people for each square mile.  That means there are about 2.1 million people in its 18.1 square miles.

New Territories
The New Territories were named by the British officials when leased from the Chinese government in 1898.  They’re north of the Kowloon peninsula and are the border between China and Hong Kong.  The Sham Chun river provides the border between China and Hong Kong. The New Territories technically also include most of Hong Kong’s outlying islands.

The New Territories were leased from China to Britain in 1898 for 99 years in the Second Convention of Peking.  Its population in 2001 was 3,343,046.

Compared to the jet-set, expatriate population of Kowloon and Hong Kong Island, the New Territories have a much more relaxed and traditional way of life.  This is where many of the native Hong Kong residents live, and the area has parks and ancient temples.

Outlying Islands
The Outlying Islands are the 234 other islands in the territory ranging from Lantau (twice the size of Hong Kong Island) to rocks poking out of the sea.  The islands are about 17% of Hong Kong’s total area but only have about 1.3% of Hong Kong’s population, so it’s easily the least populated of the districts.  Total population is around 90,000.

The Outlying Islands are technically part of the New Territories, and share its more relaxed and traditional way of life compared with the other areas of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Airport is on Lantau, the largest island in Hong Kong.